HomePod: The secure smart speaker that's big on music

11 February, 2018, 05:43 | Author: Larry Hoffman
  • TrendForce reveals who is winning the smart speaker race

For one, Siri is just not smart enough to compete with Amazon's Alexa or Google's Home assistant, creating frustrations for reviewers.

With this being central to the speaker systems, each assistant is more than adequate, but each carries its own advantages and disadvantages. "Siri doesn't even work as well on HomePod as it does on the iPhone".

9to5Mac stopped at Apple's new Michigan Avenue store in Chicago and Apple The Summit in Birmingham, AL today to take a look and listen to how well HomePod performs in acoustic conditions that will differ significantly from most people's homes.

The smart speaker uses Apple's Siri voice agent, in the company's relatively late entry into the smart speaker market. Amazon can get anything delivered to you.

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Brian Chen from the New York Times spent his time with all three main smart speakers: HomePod, Alexa, and Home respectively, and his experience paints quite a picture. But Apple's HomeKit is only compatible with certain devices; for example, you can't use it to control Google's popular Nest thermostats.

How does it compare with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Sonos One?

Digital interaction is another key area of the Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo vs. Google Home war, and again one that the Amazon device deals with particularly capably.

For all the features and functionality, though, Siri still needs a lot of work. Google is already known for being able to answer nearly any question and help you get from A to B. Microsoft products can be found in nearly every workplace. As an Apple Music subscriber you can invoke such commands as "Hey Siri, play Linda Ronstadt", "Hey Siri, play the top songs of 1971", "Hey Siri, play music to chill by", or "Hey Siri, tell me about this artist".

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For my money, the best choice is a deal Sonos is offering (for an undisclosed amount of time) to get two of its One speakers for $350. It will support multiple voice services, launching with Amazon Alexa, but will add Siri using AirPlay 2, and Google Assistant, in 2018.

Although Apple's new smart speaker is called the HomePod, businesses can use the device's intelligence and capabilities, too. Case in point: this isn't even the first time it's been repurposed against Apple for a music product - Rdio wrote "Welcome, Apple".

Bluetooth streaming: You can't just stream music from any Bluetooth source to the HomePod, even though it has Bluetooth 5.0 hardware inside. And any software makers that are allowed into Apple's walled garden have to custom develop their products for the underlying Apple platform but can't even deploy them across all devices.

Google Assistant has multi-voice support to provide individuals' schedules, playlists, traffic details, and other personalized data upon request. The device, which costs $349, is Apple's answer to competitors like Amazon's Echo and Google Home that come with virtual personal assistants that let users play music, control smart home devices like thermostats and lights, and give users access to their calendars.

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